I always have the intention to be of benefit to all others. Yet today I am feeling like I have so little to offer. I do however understand that I must be of benefit to myself first, or I have nothing to give to anyone else. And perhaps that is where the difficultly begins. Valuing myself is like loving myself, and has always been my greatest challenge. While fully aware of the great love and compassion that I have for others, I am also extremely grateful to be blessed by so many wonderful people in my life that care and do so much for me.
With all of the blessings that I have in my life, it would seem there is no reason to feel empty in any respect. So then why do I have this empty feeling and sense of worthlessness? It would appear there is a definite absence of awareness that I have yet to fully develop. And perhaps the root of this can be found in some form of self-loathing that has yet to be reconciled.
It’s pretty easy to think that we like and love ourselves, but for me personally, I can see that there are deeper and more subtle hindrances that lie hidden beneath the surface. Discovering them is not as easy as one might think. Some can be from early childhood and others from adulthood or even extremely recent actions. I sense that I posses some of each of these, and am only scratching the surface of them.
While it is true that there is no past and no future, my mind certainly is tainted with millions of neurons firing thoughts across my temporal lobe that lead me to act based on these delusions. And extinguishing these does not seem to be something that is done in one fell swoop. So today I question the best course of action in my practice. The most productive way to let go of the past, unshackle these chains of regret and self-deprecation, and love myself fully and unconditionally.
While meditation is the most powerful avenue toward awakening, it can also be a very gradual process. One that I often find a bit frustrating. And patience may be a virtue, but when it comes to being at ease with oneself, I find it very hard to wait.
Patience (khanti), may be the true antidote for the poison that afflicts me right now. And the lack of which only fuels my frustration and disappointment. I suppose it’s like thinking that I want to become enlightened, and I want it now! Understanding that the virtue of patience is what actually creates the wisdom (panna) to release me from the delusional thinking that I currently wrestle with. With patience, I can stop wrestling, stop fighting with myself, my expectations, desires and malcontent.
I suppose in between meditation, the kindest thing I can do for myself is to simply breathe. Being satisfied that I have this breath, this life, this moment. This is a pretty simple and basic form of mindfulness, but one that I often neglect. Busy with day to day duties and responsibilities, it seems like I completely forget to breathe. Obviously my body is breathing in and breathing out, but there is no awareness of it at all. Too busy, too much on my mind and too much to do. Who has time to think about breathing? But this is where my insanity takes hold, in the hustle and bustle of the daily activities that distract me from mindfulness. And without mindfulness, there is no loving friendliness (metta) toward myself. And without paying attention to my own needs, my body and mind, it’s no wonder I carry such feelings of inadequacy. I am lacking the patience first, and then the awareness and mindfulness of my own breath to keep me present and compassionate toward myself. And it is the absence of these fundamental practices that prohibits me from being of benefit to others, because I have not taken the time to be of benefit to the self.
While I encourage all of you to make time to meditate daily, if only for five or ten minutes, I encourage you also to make time to breathe. Paying attention to the joy, fear, anxiety and release that is held in each and every breath. This too is my mission for the day. May each breath, thought, word and action be of benefit to me. Let the rest come from the abundant and natural outpouring of self acceptance and self love. Anything else is simply a destructive waste of time, engaging in self-pity and the unwholesome generation of more negative kamma. And certainly none of us need more of that!